Bringing music to the streets
Lydia Brightling-Reed introduces The Streets, a project that’s bringing music and performance to the high streets of outer London. A July vocal extravaganza is planned in each high street over three weekends: 8 – 10, 16 – 17, 23 – 24 July.
I work in development for live music event producers, Serious, and am one of the managers for The Streets project. Last year, we launched a new music and performance programme in seven outer London boroughs. In just 20 days we put on over 120 free performances and reached an audience of 18,000 people. The Streets brings top quality arts and culture to outer London high streets with the aim of bringing local areas to life and people together – all by using the communal high street as a stage.
The consortium of boroughs and their high streets involved are:
- Twickenham in Richmond upon Thames
- Tooting in Wandsworth
- Ilford in Redbridge
- Leyton in Waltham Forest
- Woolwich in Royal Borough of Greenwich
- Kingston in Kingston upon Thames
- South Norwood in Croydon
Inspired by the Mary Portas Review, The Streets aims to use the arts to encourage a passion for local high streets. Supported by Arts Council England, the project was started by City Hall’s Regeneration team, in partnership with the seven boroughs, and has since been working with Serious to create a city-wide programme of events. All events are tailored to promote the distinct nature of local high streets and their communities.
Having long been the heart of local communities, high streets are spaces full of local heritage. As such, they can become hubs of social, cultural and artistic identities. The Streets reignites the energy and value of outer London’s high streets by bringing something new and exciting to them. By working with local people, businesses and community groups, The Streets creates events which respond to each area’s unique qualities. We want people to take part, be inspired and see the impact.
So far, The Streets has worked with over 50 local businesses to stage pop performances to unsuspecting consumers. Performers have ranged from international artists to local musicians. There have also been opportunities for the public to take part through workshops and artistic collaborations. In terms of music styles, The Streets has been enormously varied. There’s been everything from acoustic sets in small cafes to international artists playing in John Lewis and jazz quintets in McDonald’s. That’s not to mention the train stations, libraries, town halls and markets which have all contributed to this unique project.
The Streets has also helped businesses engage with their customers in new and imaginative ways. They have attracted new (and entertained existing) customers by offering unique and surprising experiences. It has shown how culture can be a catalyst for achieving commercial success. The Streets is helping to create a legacy where high streets are seen as creative, fun and exciting places.
The Streets returns with a July vocal extravaganza in each high street over three weekends: 8 – 10, 16 – 17, 23 – 24. There’ll also be another ‘EFG London Jazz Festival comes to The Streets’ takeover in November.
We’d love to hear from you – whether you’re a business wanting to host performances or interested in watching free, great live music.